Authors: Belart Wright
By: Belart Wright
Copyright 2015 © Belart Wright
Written by Belart Wright
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced
in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information
storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the author,
except in the case of a reviewer, who may quote brief passages embodied in
critical articles or in a review.
Trademarked names appear throughout this book. Rather than
use a trademark symbol with every occurrence of a trademarked name, names are
used in an editorial fashion, with no intention of infringement of the
respective owner’s trademark.
The information in this book is distributed on an “as is”
basis, without warranty. Although every precaution has been taken in the
preparation of this work, neither the author nor the publisher shall have any
liability to any person or entity with respect to any loss or damage caused or
alleged to be caused directly or indirectly by the information contained in
this book. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents
either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously,
and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is
Sam Nagai rose out of bed and counted himself lucky today.
He felt so good about what was ahead of him that he got up, showered, and
dressed without hitting the snooze even once. Sam was a games tester which
normally meant getting paid low wages doing mundane work on shitty mobile
hologram games. Tap here, tap there, fill out a report, cash check. That was
the normal way of things, but today would be a little different. Instead of
having to test another Holo-Birds rip-off for mobile, he would get to instead
immerse himself into a full on virtual reality simulation and it was a fantasy
game at that, a dark fantasy. Sam was a huge fan of anything considered dark,
from bloody horror movies to strange eldritch tales and gothic fantasy eBooks.
All morning and afternoon his thoughts were focused on just
what kind of game he would get to play this time. He thought about it as he
ate breakfast. It couldn’t be helped as all sorts of thoughts about it came to
his mind. His boss hadn’t given much information about it, not even a title.
The secrecy of it all was maddening.
Sam left his apartment at two twenty on the dot and drove
through the streets of sunny San Fran. After a short trip, he arrived at his
friend Robert’s house in no time. Robert only stayed a mile away from Sam’s
own studio apartment. Sam honked his horn and Robert came out of his house
after giving a sendoff kiss to his girlfriend Chelsea. Robert was tall and
lanky and walked kind of like Shaggy from that classic cartoon with the dog.
He looked like him too with his short brown hair, stubble, and long arms. He
carried a book satchel over his left shoulder and tossed it into the back seat
once he got into the car.
“You know, you probably won’t need your laptop, if this is
really a VR (virtual reality) game,” said Sam.
Robert buckled his seat belt and shrugged.
“Probably not, but you know, just in case. We might need
notes or something when we’re done,” Robert said nonchalantly. He looked over
at Chelsea and she waved then blew him a kiss. Oh, to be in love! Robert was
lucky that he had an angel like Chelsea, someone who truly loved him for who he
was. Sam was not so lucky and as of yesterday, he was currently
girlfriend-less. Sam gave Chelsea a wave then drove off. They needed to get
to the testing center by two forty-five. It was downtown. Sam figured they
had enough time to get there a little bit early, which was actually time he
allotted for any disruptions, such as slow traffic, or a random traffic stop by
the police. As he drove, his thoughts inevitably went back to the mysterious
game. Robert beat him to the punch with his question.
“What do you think this game is about?”
It was a conversation they’d had before, but even now it was
fun to speculate.
“I have no clue, man. You?” Sam asked.
“I don’t know. I’m thinking it’s going to be something like
those old Death Planes games. Remember those? They haven’t made anything like
that in like twenty years. Everything now is just bubblegum bullshit. That
game was so metal!”
“I don’t think so, man. That would be way too awesome,” Sam
said while laughing. “We can’t get our hopes up like that.”
“But, what if it is?” Robert said, barely containing his own
excitement. “Can you imagine actually slashing demons and throwing fireballs
and shit in real time? Imagine how badass that would be!”
“Come on, man, don’t get my hopes up. I’m trying to keep my
“Okay, so it probably won’t be that awesome. I’d be
satisfied with a realistic sword and sorcery as long as I could axe a few
questions to my opponents. I’d take that over another Holo-Birds any day.”
“Amen to that. I’m with you there, but I denounce that
horrible axe pun,” Sam said laughing.
“Fuuuuck youuuu,” Robert replied, also laughing. “My axe
pun is the cutting edge of humor.”
“Gross dude, gross. Anyways, I hope the game isn’t too
realistic. Can you imagine my five foot nothing, three hundred pound ass
swinging swords against goblins and orcs?”
“I can, but I really don’t want to,” Robert replied. “And
way to exaggerate. You sound like my sister. You’re not even remotely close
to three hundred.”
“I’m one bad week away from it, and now with the breakup, I
know I’m just going to put the weight on.”
“Whatever man, forget all that. This gig is going to be a good
fucking gig. I can feel it. We’re going to have a lot of fun and we’re going
to get paid for it, then after that you’ll do your art thing, make some more
loot, and charm the panties off of some sweet little princess. You are the
bear, are you not?”
Sam sighed and answered, “I am the bear.” On days like
this, Sam was especially glad to have Robert around. The man was an expert on
calling him on his bullshit. They continued talking about the game while Sam
drove around the downtown area looking for the testing facility. He stopped
and parked in front of an empty lot. The car’s GPS was telling Sam that there
was a building in front of him, but his eyes could not agree. The lot was
fenced off and seemed to have been home to a recently demolished building.
“What the hell?” Robert asked, expressing Sam’s own
“GPS says it’s here, but it’s not. Let me check my messages
He checked his messages and confirmed the address. He
looked around and shook his head at the stupidity of the situation.
“They gave us the wrong address!” Sam yelled. “I actually
wanted to get there on time.”
“Hold up, some guy from the car wash is walking up. Maybe
he saw some other testers as confused as we are.”
A tall man with a heavy tan walked up wearing a baseball
cap, tank top, and cargo shorts and called out to them.
“Hey! You guys looking for a building?”
Sam leaned out of his car window and replied, “Yeah. Have
you seen any other cars come over here looking for a place?”
“Yeah,” the man said as he neared Sam’s car door.
Naturally, Sam tensed up a little at the proximity of the muscular man. He
wasn’t full on scared, as the man was being helpful, but he was on alert.
“People have been coming over here all afternoon. I guess someone gave you all
the wrong directions. Anyway that guy over there in the red car has been
coming back and forth leading people to the right place. He wanted me to tell
you to follow him.”
“Wow, that’s really nice of you,” said Sam, earnestly
surprised by the man’s generosity.
The man laughed and added, “I’m nice, but getting paid to
tell people to follow a guy makes me nicer.” He turned around and walked back
to the car wash across the street. The red car that the man mentioned pulled up
to the curb from the side of the building and the short-haired blond man with
glasses inside looked over at Sam. Once he saw that Sam had seen him, he
pulled out into traffic and headed north. Sam quickly turned his car around
and followed the man for a mile before pulling up next to him at a stop light.
The man looked much younger than Sam initially thought, like he might have
still been in high school. Sam leaned over and called out to him.
“You going to the testing facility?”
“Yeah. I’m leading people there since there was some sort
of mix-up,” the blond man said.
“You a tester too?” Sam asked.
“Yeah. We got a pretty cool game this time, eh?”
“You know anything about it?”
“Probably as much as you do. Dark fantasy VR sim
(simulation), right?” he asked.
“That’s exactly how much I know,” Sam replied.
“Well, I think we’ll be in for a pleasant surprise. That’s
“See dude, even he knows it,” Robert said, nudging Sam.
The light turned green and the blond haired man said,
“Alright, see you when we get there,” before driving off.
He led them a mile down, to an underground parking garage.
He pulled in, and then did a U-turn when he saw that Sam had driven down into
the structure. He drove next to Sam’s car, so that their driver’s side windows
were facing. This close, Sam could see that the man was definitely high school
to early college age with light brown eyes and barely-there freckles.
“I’m going to go back to the car wash one more time to get
anyone else who might get lost. They’ve extended the grace period because of
their error, so you guys will still be technically early. The building you
need to go to is right across the street once you get off the elevator at the
first floor,” the boy explained.
Sam nodded his head and the boy pulled off without so much
as an introduction. Sam found an empty parking spot on the third underground
level and parked his car. He and Robert made their way to the elevator and
waited for it.
“What a fustercluck already,” said Robert. “Geez, this is
way too complicated and we aren’t even in the building yet.”
“I know right. You know what’s weird though? I’m still
psyched about all this,” explained Sam.
The elevator arrived and they walked into it.
“Yeah, me too.”
Robert pushed the button for the first floor and sent them
up. They walked off the elevator, out of the parking garage, and crossed the
busy street into the modest sized office building and were immediately greeted
by a large, wide white man in a security uniform.
“Hello, gentleman. Welcome to the virtual testing
facility. I’ll need you to check in all items in your possession that are not
absolutely vital. Any pens, pencils, markers, or whatever other writing
utensils you may have. Leave all paper, notebooks, scrap paper, and electronic
devices here also. There will be no mobile phones, handheld computers, or anything
else that can connect to the internet allowed past this point.”
“What do you mean?” asked Robert. “I have a wife and family
that may need to get in touch with me. I would call that vital.”
Sam had a laugh at Robert’s hypocrisy, exaggerating his and
Chelsea’s relationship status, when he had admonished Sam for his earlier
“There will be no cell phones or anything else that I have
listed to you allowed past this point. If you don’t agree then you will not be
allowed to participate in the test,” replied the guard.
“What if my family really has an emergency?” asked Robert.
“Your contacts will be added to our database, with your
permission, and if one of them calls with an emergency, you will be informed.
Robert sighed, knowing he was defeated. “Yeah, it does,” he
said, and then turned over his phone, watch, and backpack. It seemed at tad
bit much for the sake of secrecy, especially for a videogame. Sam followed
suit anyway and then the two of them proceeded down the hall to where others
were standing, a roughly even mixture of men and women.
Sam whispered over to Robert.
“Hey, look at that. For the first time in our lives, it’s
not a complete sausage fest.”
“That benefits you more than me,” Robert replied.
“Nah, I’m not even looking at it like that. After
everything Michelle put me through, I don’t even want to think about getting a
girlfriend right now. I’m just glad to have some chicks around, ya know. I
like the vibes they give off.”
“Yeah, I understand. You like their vibes, then you end up
liking another V word of theirs.”
“Ah, screw you, man. I’m trying to think beyond the normal
binary of male/female relationships.”
“And you’re failing miserably if you let me talk you out of
it. Wait! Look at that.”
There looked to be a line of people signing a piece of paper
on a pedestal. A short haired brunette woman dressed in a professional gray
skirt, navy blazer, and black heels noticed Sam and Robert approaching the line
and addressed them.
“Hello, gentlemen! My name is Anna and I’ll be guiding you
throughout this whole process. Right now we are signing the confidentiality
waiver. While you are waiting to sign, I recommend reading over the terms.
Here, take these.”
She walked over and handed them a thin sheet of paper with a
very simple agreement on it. Sam and Robert handed them right back.
“It’s pretty straightforward, isn’t it?” she asked
Sam couldn’t help but to nod his head like a goober. He was
a sucker for trying to please beautiful women. It was why Michelle was able to
take advantage of him so easily before. Anna went back to where she stood
before and greeted the next group of people to come in after Sam and Robert.
Eventually the two of them signed the waiver, followed by the last of the
testers. There were at least a few hundred people standing in the packed hall
and all of them were here to test the game.
Once everyone was gathered, Anna stood up on a small
platform so that everyone could see her and her wonderfully toned legs and gave
“Attention, testers. Again, my name is Anna and I’d like to
welcome you to our company. We are Full Core Studios and today you will be the
first to get your hands on our newest triple-A title, a cutting edge Dark
Fantasy VRRPG (virtual reality role playing game). I can say that this game is
truly in a league of its own, folks, and I can’t wait to show it to you.”
She paused and took a moment to look around the room. Sam
could feel the excitement building all around him. Everyone was buzzing. It
was mostly her gigantic reveal of the studio name. Sam knew, from his own
games collection, that Full Core were publishers of mostly obscure Japanese
RPGs (role-playing games) along with a few hit action games. Their games
usually got high scores for quality, art direction, and original gameplay.
Knowing that tidbit only made his excitement build to a frenzy.
“We’ve taken great steps to ensure the secrecy of our game,
as you can tell, and now we have just one more step before you are ready to
play. You see, our testing workshop is not actually in this building—no—
Surveillance software and hacking programs are just too advanced to even give
that much sensitive information out to the companies you all work for. It’s
too big of a risk, so we will instead shuttle you to our real testing
facilities, not far from this building. Now, I want you all to follow me to
the shuttles out back.”